In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and milk with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
The mixture will thicken suddenly. When it does, remove it from the heat, add the butter, and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to a cold container and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes. The temperature needs to fall below 50°C/120ºF before adding the yeast, so as not to "kill" the yeast. *
Once cooled, add the flour, sugar, and active dry yeast. Mix into a dough and then leave to stand for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
Step 2. Knead & Flavor the dough
Knead the dough for about ten minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic.
Once ready, cut the dough in two halves. In one half, add the zest of the orange and set it to one side under a cloth. This will be your white dough.
Cut the remaining half into another two equal pieces (you can weigh them if you want complete accuracy).
For the dark brown, mix the 15g of cocoa powder and milk into the dough and knead until the color is even throughout the dough. Repeat this with the remaining dough and the 5g cocoa and milk mix.
Form each color into seven balls of around the same size. I have to admit I 'eyed' this, though you can be 100% accurate by weighing the dough balls.
Step 3. Allow the dough to rise
Flour the dough balls lightly and place them in airtight containers at room temperature for an hour and a half to rise and almost double in size.
Step 4. Shape the brioche leopard prints
To create the leopard spots is actually fairly easy to do. First, Take a piece of light brown dough. Roll this into a thin rope, slightly less than the length of your bread tin.
Next, take a piece of dark brown dough and white dough and flatten them with a rolling pin to the length of the cake tin.You want the white dough to be slightly longer than the others so that it encloses them on either end - so no-one can see the pattern on the outside of the bread.
To make a leopard spot, simply place the light brown dough rope onto the center of the darker piece and roll it to wrap around the rope. Don't worry if they don't all surround it completely, as it'll make for slightly different spots - which I like.In fact, any differences in dough thickness and shape will all make for unique leopard spots for a more interesting design.
Then place this rope and place it onto the light sough and roll once more, making sure that the piece is thoroughly closed this time, pinching the ends together too.Voila- you have your first leopard spot! Repeat this with the remaining dough to form six more 'ropes.'
Step 5. Allow rising once more
Place the ropes into a bread tin (loaf pan) lined with baking paper or buttered/oiled then over with a clean cloth and allow to stand for around 2 hours at room temperature. This will allow the dough to rise for further time and double in volume.
Step 6. Bake the chocolate bread
Towards the end of the second rising time, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF, with a container of water at the bottom of the oven (I put water in an oven pan).
Brush the bread with a little milk or egg wash, then place in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 170°C/325ºF.Bake for 35-40 minutes, then allow it to cool on a wire rack.
Step 7. Decorate (Optional)
Melt the chocolate with the milk and mix well. Feel free to add a little orange extract for extra citrus flavor. Then pour over the brioche bread ad sprinkle with some crushed hazelnuts.
How To Store
Like most fresh bread recipes, this brioche bread is best eaten within a few days 3-4 at the most, but sometimes up to 5 if you're lucky. Store tightly wrapped in an airtight bag/ wrap to retain the moisture within the bread and stop it from drying out.You can also freeze this bread for up to two months. When freezing, I like to pre-slice the bread, so I can grab out just enough pieces that I need each time.
While it seems it takes hours to make this cake, most of the time is passive as the dough needs to rise. The "hands-on time" is about 40 minutes, split into several shorter periods.
* If you have a food thermometer, then it's best to use that here. However, I've found that allowing it to cool for at least 20 minutes is more than enough for it to cool down adequately.
Make sure that the white dough encloses the rope of lighter and dark brown dough for the pattern to be hidden from the outside of the baked loaf.
Top Tip: You can use leftover brioche that's beginning to go stale to make a delicious french toast bake